By David Millward
Norfolk, UK (March 9, 2011)- A trial in Norfolk found that creating avenue of trees and hedges had a dramatic impact on motorists’ behavior. The experiment at four villages – Overstrand, Martham, Coltishall and Mundesley – showed that drivers dropped their speed because of the cut in their peripheral vision. In all there was a 20 per cent drop in the number of motorists driving at 40 to 60mph and overall average speeds fell by 1.5 per cent.
At the same time trees were regarded as more suitable for the countryside than other traffic calming methods which are used in towns. Parish councils have told the DfT that the trees not only reduced speeding but also softened the landscape. The trials were hailed by Mike Penning, the road safety minister.
“The success of Norfolk’s road side tree planting scheme proves that it is possible to use imaginative solutions to cut speeding on rural roads leading into villages rather than just resorting to cameras,” he said, “I hope that other councils will be inspired by the success of this scheme and consider whether they might be able to use similar programmes to reduce road casualties on their rural roads.”
Andrew Howard, the AA’s head of road safety, said drivers slowed down when they could see less of the road ahead. “If visibility is too good cars are more likely to overtake when it is not safe to do so.
“Poor visibility can lead to rear-end shunts, because drivers can’t see the road ahead. Well planted trees can strike a happy medium.”
Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Committee for Transport Safety, was more cautious. “They certainly have their case, but trees are not necessarily an alternative to speed cameras. Clearly you don’t want people driving into them and killing themselves.”
The Telegraph- Trees could be alternative to speed cameras
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